Air New Zealand flight to Shanghai turned back over Taiwan reference

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner plane taxis at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago Illinois on Nov 30 2018

However, aviation commentator Irene King said the flight was most likely forced to turn back because there had been a "cock-up" with the paperwork at Air New Zealand's end.

In a statement late on Sunday, China's civil aviation regulator quoted the airline as having said the issue was due to "temporary improper allocation of the aircraft". One tweeted: "Midway through our flight from Auckland to Shanghai, the pilot informs us that Chinese authorities had not given the plane permission to..."

About four and half hours into its flight early on Sunday NZ789 had to turn around over the Coral Sea after it was discovered it didn't have regulatory clearance to land in China.

Sources told Stuff that Air New Zealand officials were supposed to do the same in their flight paperwork - but someone forgot and this is why the plane was denied landing permission.

Some airlines, including American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., Hawaiian Holdings Inc., Qantas Airways Ltd., Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG cooperated with China's wishes on reference to Taiwan before a deadline previous year.

The flight that touched down in Shanghai on Monday was a Boeing 787-9 with the registration ZK-NZH.

"We've not received any communication of this nature", an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said at the time.

There is no doubt that the relationship is in a hard state, and many in media and foreign affairs circles are on the lookout for any sign that China is punishing New Zealand. At no point did she mention Taiwan or its status as a country.

Ardern cancelled her first planned state visit in November 2018 because both parties were too busy. "But actually the decision around 5G and how that is rolled out is governed by a regulation, a process that checks that whatever decision we make is in the best interest of New Zealanders data and security", she said.

China has a history of demanding worldwide airlines not refer to Taiwan's independence or nationhood on its websites or promotional material, and in the past has urged Qantas, Air Canada and others to change how it refers to the island. The airline said all customers had since arrived in Shanghai.

In February 2018, the Chinese government had instructed airlines to review their website references, and remove any material that identified Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong as independent regions - a demand that was reiterated to 44 worldwide carriers in a letter.

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